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Badger camera helps catch burglar

06 Oct 2005 - BBC News

Footage from a camera set up in a Devon garden to film badgers has helped jail a burglar.

When James Coombes played back footage he saw three men wearing gloves going through his garden to burgle a nearby property in Cowley Bridge Road, Exeter.

David Page, who had raided nine homes in four days, admitted burglary and amphetamine possession offences.

Page, 25, from St David's Hill in the city, was jailed for four years at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday.

Mr Coombes set up the camera system four years ago on the back patio of his home.

He handed over the footage to the police and when they viewed it they identified Page.

Mr Coombes, 71, told of his shock when he saw human figures on the system for the first time.

"I just sat down checking through as I do every day and, lo and behold, I saw these three men just walking across the back all gloved up."

Two other men recorded on Mr Coombes' tape are still at large.

"It was quite frightening, they were in single file just like animals," said Mr Coombes, a former motor parts wholesaler.

"I rang the police and they viewed the film in my home, told me what good quality it was, and took it away," said Mr Coombes, adding that the intruders were filmed at very close range.

"It picked them up quite clearly," he said.

"I have got 40 tapes going back four years - and seeing this was a bit of a shock," said Mr Coombes, whose house was not broken into.

Mr Coombes said he was "obviously pleased" that his tape had helped bring a criminal to justice, adding: "I think it is awful what they do."

He said he and his wife Mavis, 69, delight in watching their regular wildlife show.

"At the moment we have got three badgers and two foxes here every night, they come on time and we know when they are coming. We even invite people over to see them.

"There is one badger which Mavis feeds by hand which is supposed to be most unusual," said Mr Coombes.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said it was "very public-spirited" of the couple to contact them.

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